Harrison Ford “saved several lives” by crashing on a golf course instead of a residential area, according to an eyewitness to his emergency crash landing Thursday.
“Looking at where he crashed and how the plane went down, I’m sure there was a moment where he said, ‘I’m not going to risk lives, whatever happens, happens. It’s going to be just me,” Eddie Aguglia, camera assistant, who was playing golf when Ford crashed, told NBC News.
“He risked life and limb by putting it down on the golf course instead of trying to go further to try to get back to the airport,” Aguglia added. “Another 25 to 30 yards and … I don’t want to think about it. He saved several lives.”
Another eyewitness said Ford’s crashing on a golf course as opposed to residential area was likely no coincidence.
“When you have an engine failure as a pilot you are taught the number one priority is the safety of the people on the ground,” Charlie Thompson, a flight instructor who saw Ford take off from the airport, told NBC. “The golf course is the place where you could land the safest for the local community and making sure he didn’t endanger the people in the local area.”
Ford had just taken off from nearby Santa Monica Airport and requested a return before the aircraft crashed, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The 72-year-old actor had been flying a World War II training plane, a Ryan Aeronautical model ST3KR, built in 1942.
In a call to air-traffic control workers prior to the crash, Ford reported that his plane had experienced “engine failure” and requested to make an “immediate return” to the airport.